What do you do when you see an adorable dog in public? Do you immediately make a beeline towards
the dog and start petting it? Are there social or safety guidelines when petting a dog?
It may be tempting to start petting a dog that’s walking on a leash with its owner – especially if they’re
adorable and seem friendly! But, not all dogs are comfortable or used to having someone they don’t
know touching them. They could be a rescued dog that may be learning how to adapt or work through
issues from their past. There are many reasons why caution should be used when approaching a dog.
What steps should you take when considering whether a dog is safe to pet or not?
- Always ask the owner first. The owner knows the temperament of the dog, and if they’re friendly, nervous, shy, aggressive, etc. towards unfamiliar people.
- If given permission to pet the dog, don’t approach the dog straight on and keep eye contact.
Instead, approach calmly, slowly, from the side.
- Wait for the dog to respond and let him/her come to you.
- Watch the dog’s body language. If they’re showing signs of apprehension, don’t proceed. But, if
they’re showing friendliness, gently pet them in areas dogs enjoy being petted.
Areas to and not to pet a dog:
- Top of the head
- Neck- the backside and underside